The university said Friday it has notified staff, faculty and students of the situation. Kevin Friese, assistant dean of students in health and wellness at the U of A, said all four students are enrolled in the School of Business.
“We have determined they are linked cases. As far as we know they’re the only cases at the University of Alberta at the present time,” Friese said Friday afternoon. “These cases were made aware to us just two days ago and we began to work with Alberta Health Services yesterday.
“They’re resting and receiving support from Alberta Health Services. At the present time there’s no specific information that we’ve received from Alberta Health Services that they need to be quarantined or segregated. But certainly it is important that they are resting up, creating a little bit of distance for themselves.”
Mumps is a contagious viral infection that can cause painful swelling of the salivary glands.
It usually goes away in about 10 days, but, in some cases, it can cause complications that affect the brain, the testicles, the ovaries, or the pancreas.
The advisory at the U of A came after nine cases of mumps were reported in southern Alberta earlier this week, after exposure to the virus from some players for the Medicine Hat Tigers, a team in the Western Hockey League.
On Friday afternoon, the Vancouver Canucks said several players had also presented with symptoms of mumps.
Dr. Joanna Oda, a medical officer of health with AHS, said so far this year, Alberta has seen 17 cases of mumps, nine of which are related to the outbreak in the southern region of the province.
Last year, there were eight cases of mumps in Alberta and in 2015 there were four.
“We are seeing a distinct increase in the number of cases this particular year,” Oda said.
Oda said it does not appear the four cases of mumps at the U of A are linked to the cases in southern Alberta.
Mumps is primarily spread through contact with infected saliva, Oda said. People are encouraged to wash their hands and avoid sharing things like cups, water bottles and utensils, particularly in close settings such as a university.
“Any time you’ve got large populated areas, thinking in particular about things like communal living spaces, we want to ensure that people are taking the appropriate precautions to not share items that might cause the spread of virus,” Friese said.
“It’s a gathering place of young people and there’s lots of saliva sharing in a university,” Oda added.
Watch below: What is mumps? How is it spread? How can people protect themselves? Dr. Joanna Oda with AHS explains.
Students, staff and faculty members are urged to check their vaccination status to ensure their vaccinations are up to date. Anyone who is unsure of their vaccination status can call Health Link at 811.